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More Details on the Redesign of the SATS

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More Details on the Redesign of the SATS

With a brand new website, DeliveringOpportunity.org, and tagline "Delivering Opportunity and the Redesigned SAT," I have to commend the College Board's efforts to ensure that parents, students, and educational professionals remain updated on what the new SAT will look like in 2016. The new test format is still two years away however, David Coleman and Cyndie Schmeiser add their dedication to making the test more relevant and socio-economically fair, remarking "It is our goal that every student who takes the test will be well informed and will know exactly what to expect on the day of the test. As part of our ongoing commitment, we will continue to provide updated resources and materials so that all students can do their best work."

The Redesigned SAT

The homepage clearly states, "The redesigned SAT will focus on the knowledge and skills that current research shows are most essential for college and career readiness and success. The exam will reflect the best of classwork."

Last week, the College Board released more insight as to what the "new and improved" SAT changes will be, which will debut in Spring 2016.

[Get SAT and ACT help from an independent advisor.]

Major Changes to the SAT

The redesigned exam will:

  • Have 3 sections: Evidence-based Reading and Writing, Math, and the (optional) Essay.
  • Return to a 1600 scale with the essay providing a separate score.
  • Be approximately 3 hours long with an additional 50 minutes for the essay.
  • Will be administered both in print and by computer in 2016.

Other SAT Changes Will Include:

1. Relevant vocabulary words in context. The new SAT will focus on words that students will use consistently in college and beyond.

2. Evidence-based reading and writing. Students will be asked to support answers with evidence, including questions that require them to cite a specific part of a passage to support their answer choice.

3. Essay analyzing a source. The essay will measure students' ability to analyze evidence and explain how an author builds an argument to persuade a message, evaluated on coherence of the writing.

*BUT THE ESSAY WILL NO LONGER BE REQUIRED! Many admissions officers feel that one essay alone is not predictive of college readiness, so yes, the essay can be now be skipped. That's a HUGE change.

4. Math focused on three key areas. The math section will draw on fewer topics and focus primarily on problem solving and data-analysis; the heart of algebra; and some advanced math concepts widely taught in high school.

5. The reading section's source documents will originate from a wide range of academic disciplines. These will include science and social studies, literature, and non-fiction.

6. Analyzing data and texts in real world context. Students will engage with questions grounded in the real world, questions directly related to the work performed in college and career.

7. Founding Documents and Great Global Conversation. Each exam will include a passage drawn from such great "founding documents" as the Declaration of Independence.

8. Scoring Change. Students will no longer be penalized for incorrect answers, encouraging students to select the best answer for every question.

Standardized tests, like the SAT, will always be a part of the college admissions process, but Ac­ceptU’s Dr. Stephen Friedfeld, who is also a former college admissions officer, reminds parents and students that, "Admissions is a holistic process and all parts of the application will have some importance." While more selective universities will typically place more importance on scores in order to differentiate among highly qualified applicants, Friedfeld continues, "Grades and curriculum are always the most important part of any application. Colleges also take into account a teen's essays, extracurricular activities, and ‘leadership potential.’ Remember test scores only tell colleges one part of the applicant's story.”

Not only am I a professional working in the college educational space, but I am also a mother of a teen who will eventually take this revised standardized SAT exam. The College Board invites all of us to sign up for periodic updates on the new SAT. Let's hope they truly stick to their credence, and that the new test is more closely aligned with what our kids are actually learning in school.

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